IPAM stands for Internet Protocol Address Management, and it’s something a lot of businesses may need, yet don’t utilize. In general, what is IPAM?
IPAM is a way to organize and track the information related to IP addresses within a network and organization. The most general objective of IPAM is to be a way for network administrators to ensure that all of the IP addresses stay updated.
IPAM can include not only IP addresses that are assigned, but unassigned addresses as well. An IPAM will usually work along with DNS and DHCP. There are different options available, such as Microsoft IPAM solutions, that can be selected based on the network, existing needs, and applications being used.
So, even if you have a general understanding of the concept, what else do you need to know?
The Importance of IP Addresses
The importance of IP addresses is something that can be overlooked on its own, as well as the appropriate management of IP addresses. Sometimes you’ll see IP addresses referred to as one of the most important resources in a network requiring management.
Every application and part of a network relies on an IP address. Along with things like email and connectivity to the Internet, certain services that are becoming increasingly critical to businesses such as VoIP are adding to the need for IP address management.
What are the Benefits of an IPAM Strategy?
So why is it worth it to organizations to have an IPAM strategy? Some of the benefits can include:
- Reducing outages and network problems
- Tracking assets
- Ensuring security for the network
Regulatory compliance is one more reason to focus on having an effective and up-to-date IPAM strategy. Organizations need to be able to ensure that they are managing all of their IP addresses, so they always know, in real-time, who has access to what, and where that access is coming from.
With Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, there are stipulations regarding the monitoring of addresses. For example, if a company was issued a subpoena under the guidelines of SOX, they might be required to show a log of IP address information. When there’s an IPAM strategy in place, it can make this easier and smoother.
Having IPAM strategies in place is important for security in general as well, and not just in terms of regulatory requirements. For example, when a network administrator has access to IPAM data, it can help them more readily detect breaches in their infrastructure.
Along with specific incidents that could reflect a breach, IPAM strategies can also help organizations proactively identify patterns that could indicate misuse.
This is just one more layer of security required in a modern organization.
While specific issues related to compliance and security are important, IPAM is also useful for determining the general health of a network, which is also essential. For example, using an IPAM can help network administrators avoid one of the biggest problems that occur on networks, which are conflicts in IP addresses. Basically, what that means are duplicate IP addresses.
With the use of an IPAM, it’s easy to collect real-time data that let administrators see what’s happening with any particular IP address at any given time.
What Can Happen Without an IPAM?
So what are the potential results of not having an IPAM? The following are some issues that can potentially occur:
- You can manage a server outage based on an IP address conflict, as was discussed. Conflicting IP addresses can cause significant outages of servers.
- Along with the general problems that come with outages and getting them back on track, it can also cause confusion as the problem is identified and loss of productivity across the board.
- If you’re deploying new servers or anything new is being implemented into your IT infrastructure, you’ll need to assign IP addresses, and if you don’t have an IPAM, there’s a high likelihood this can lead to conflicts. If IP addresses are randomly assigned, it may be that when the network administrator tries to see if an IP address is in use, it’s not at that moment but it might come back online, leading to the outages.
- If you don’t have an IPAM, there’s going to be lost time related to trying to identify if certain IP addresses can be used.
Can organizations get by without an IPAM? The answer is maybe, but in the modern world, this isn’t likely a risk you want to take when there are better options available.